Adam and Eve and the Fall – some unanswered and possibly unanswerable questions
To some, these questions and speculations will seem heresy or apostasy. They are not intended to be such. But, these questions may serve to be food for thought for some open minded readers. By the way, I will not – and I never do (do I?) – insist that any readers take my speculations as dogma. That is not my style. Also, please do not think that I am mocking the Genesis account here with a bit of sarcasm. Have you ever read Jonathan Swift? Or, Voltaire?
The Garden of Eden story in Genesis has always been the most difficult part of the Bible for me. (Actually, it may be second most difficult, behind the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, but that is a possible essay for some distant day.)
First, I am uncomfortable with the premise that one couple’s misstep is subsequently paid for by each and every succeeding generation for all time in this vale of tears. Some might correct me here by proposing that any other man and woman would also (by default?) have messed up, and we would all be right back in the same boat as we are now. Perhaps. Surely, the possibility, even likelihood, of that being true cannot be denied out of hand given the current weaknesses of men and women. But, we need to factor in that we would be considering other “pre-fall” men and women in the Garden instead of Adam and Eve. But, alas, this line of reasoning very quickly leads to a dead-end, and therefore let’s not pursue it any further here.
Here are some completely random thoughts on this topic that have plagued me over the last several years in my waking hours. (My nightmares are rather strange, even by this world’s standards.) In some ways, the account in Genesis is more notable for what it does not tell us, than for what it does tell us. Adam and Eve caved and gave into temptation and ate the apple (of the tree of knowledge of good and evil …. and they quickly donned clothes, or fig leaves – a reasonable facsimile – as the Garden may have had tropical temperatures).
Of course, let’s be fair here! Eve was tricked and misled into eating the apple by the crafty lies of the serpent (Satan). Now, why was the serpent permitted into the Garden? Was this purposeful? Many Christians will say yes, it was. But, what are they basing that supposition on? Be that as it may, I wonder if the angels tasked with Garden security (if there were any so tasked) were asleep or away from their posts when the serpent slithered past from outside.
Another very important question here is this: “Were Adam and Eve only tempted once?” Is that all it took for them to “fall” and bring down all succeeding generations? This idea is a bit tough to get my mind around. (Stay with me here now.) Could it be that they had endured a daily temptation for years, or decades? Who can say? Genesis is conspicuously silent on this and other relevant points.
Imagine that Adam and Eve were tempted in various ways over some time. One morning, after breakfast, they were tempted yet again – perhaps for the proverbial “umpteenth” time, may be the 10,000th time. Eve glances wearily into Adam’s kind, understanding eyes. They have both simultaneously experienced the same unspoken thought (perhaps, pre-Fall, they had telepathic abilities?!). It hardly needs voicing. But, they both give voice to it at the same time: “Let’s give Him what He wants. . . . . . And, see what happens.”
In the Vedic teachings of India, they do not give specific, concrete answers as to how we fell. At least, I have not come across any such explanations similar to the Garden of Eden account in Genesis. The belief, basically, is that we all fell from a better state. We all screwed up, and that is why we find ourselves under a life sentence in this unpleasant world. (The Vedic teachings are geared to showing one how to escape the seemingly or virtually endless round of birth – death – rebirth and returning to the Abode of Krsna (alternatively spelled Krishna). We are, as spiritual monads, part of Krsna’s marginal energy, and our eternal, constitutional position as such is that of servitor to Him.).
In other words, we cannot curse an Adam and an Eve for our woeful plight. Each of us did it to himself or herself.
Now, if you listen to late night radio (when insomnia occurs, I once in a while will give a listen), you hear some rather unusual program guests give voice to some rather unusual views. As to Adam and Eve, some radio guests have asserted that Adam and Eve were really space aliens sent to Earth to help the human race get on the road to progress, and not keep sitting in the mud and doing nothing constructive. They were sort of like Prometheus from Greek mythology with his gift of fire for us mortals. Culture bringers and not villains.
As an aside, there are items in the Old Testament that are not unique to it. The flood of Noah is one such example. It is mentioned in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. Sumer fell circa 2,000 B.C. and Gilgamesh, a king, lived some several centuries before that. His story also serves to demonstrate that the questions have always been the same for mankind. The quest for meaning and purpose, the search for immortality, not wanting to die, not wanting to lose loved ones through tragic untimely deaths. Or, as James Joyce put it: that which is grave and constant in human suffering.
Now, let me be clear about this (as the lying politicos like to say). I am not denying the very real existence of evil in the world. Similarly, I am not denying a fallen or flawed nature in human beings. There is simply too much evidence of that all around us every night and day. I am merely suggesting that the stories that have been handed down for thousands of years are not very satisfying to our intellects. And, perhaps that was intentional.
Say, if you have liked reading this essay, feel free to click on the like button – no one will hold it against you! Don’t be lazy. I took the time to write this. (I could have been sipping some quality sour mash late on a Sunday night.)